Tourists to Tunisia remain a soft target for terrorists, claims industry insider

Travel writer Shafik Meghji says 'UK government has to err on the side of caution' on Tunisia travel warnings

Thirty-nine tourists, including 30 Britons, were killed when a gunman opened fire on the beach at Sousse last June

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tunisian ambassador Nabil Ammar may believe it is time for the UK government to relax its travel advice for his country, but industry specialist Shafik Meghji has told talkRADIO that tourists remain a "soft target" in the region. 

The UK currently has an 'all but essential' warning against travelling to Tunisia, despite the ambassador's claims on Monday that significant security improvements have been made since two terror attacks in the North African country last year killed 31 British holidaymakers.

"The Tunisian ambassador rightly points out that security measures have improved, however I think the UK government has to err on the side of caution," Meghji, a travel writer for Rough Guides, told Julia Hartley-Brewer.

"From the Tunisian government's perspective, a 90 per cent fall in UK tourists is particularly hard, because UK tourists have made up such a significant proportion of the tourist industry. 

"They desperately need the tourists to come back. If you look at the beaches of Sousse [where a 2015 terror attack took place] they're empty.

"But a state of emergency in Tunisia still exists, there have been suicide bombings and armed clashes with terrorists in recent months. 

"Security has improved, but tourists remain a soft target."

The UK's current travel warning was put in place in July last year following the two terror incidents involving British holidaymakers, and Meghji warned: "The UK government tends to have a more robust outlook to these kind of things [than other countries]. 

"When they have a warning in place it pays to follow it."